Saturday, May 18, 2013
Alaska’s Seniors, Veterans Caught in Debt Ceiling Crossfire
President Barack Obama said he can’t guarantee that Social Security, disability and veterans’ check will be distributed after August 3.
With the clock ticking to raise the nation's debt limit, the stalemate between Congress and President Barack Obama has many Americans worried that they may not receive expected checks for Social Security, disability and veterans’ checks.
Alaskans are among the concerned.
Stretching $475 from his veteran disability check over a month is a regular challenge in Bruce Richards’ life. More than half of his check goes toward paying rent, followed by transportation. “I’m broke toward the end of the month. In fact, I got about $30 left,” he said.
In an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, the president said that if they can’t reach a compromise to resolve the debt ceiling issue, he could not guarantee payments for social security, those with disabilities and veterans after August 2. In jeopardy are 70 million checks that Americans, and Alaskans, depend on.
According to Ann Secrest, director of communications for AARP Alaska, 41 percent of single seniors and 20 percent of married couples depend on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. “You can imagine the impact is tremendous,” she continued.
Residents who lean heavily on food and housing assistance from the Anchorage Senior Center are awaiting their fate.
“One of our members is living in their van because they literally they don't have enough money to pay rent or utilities or to put gas in their car,” said Cathy Lee, the center’s executive director.
AARP of Alaska officials said that if lawmakers do not reach a compromise the government would be breaking a promise to Americans who have worked and paid into the system their entire lives.